[The two objectives for the Place Directorate this fall within this panel remit are:
· Supporting Business, Encouraging Enterprise and Investment
· Improving our critical Skills and Employability Approach
The papers provides information about performance indicators and monitoring performance]
Keren Jones, Service Director outlined the corporate priorities for place relating to Stronger Economy. Cllr Phil Bateman referred to comments made earlier in the meeting relating to the 17 foreign investors that have moved in to the Wednesfield area creating jobs and increasing economic viability of the area. He suggested that 12% of industry in Wednesfield is advanced manufacturing which is a good example for Wolverhampton. He requested that when setting policies this should be taken into account and that the Council should not focus exclusively on three priority areas.
The Service Director assured the Panel that the corporate priorities take account of the issues raised by Cllr Phil Bateman, she advised that the Council will be acting in a brokerage role to work with specialist sector organisations in a sectorial base, as well as a geographical base. She advised that there is more work to do on the infrastructure however work around joint venture funding is on-going and talks with Wiggle, UTC and foreign owned companies are on-going.
The Service Development Manager informed the panel about installation of Cabinets for superfast broadband in Wednesfield to support businesses and to attract others to the area. Cllr Paul Singh and Harman Banger welcomed the developments in Wednesfield, Cllr Harman Banger commented that the size of the business and the impact it has on the City is important when attracting inward investment. Panel discussed the need to attract small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to the City as well as larger organisations.
Cllr Harman Banger suggested that there is a need for a complete package to promote inward investment opportunities. He asked how Wolverhampton compared with other Councils, in particular how Wolverhampton is reflected on the internet - sites, lifestyle, and the complete package.
The Chair highlighted the draft work programme that had been tabled for information; she indicated that several themed sessions would pick up the issues highlighted in discussion during the meeting the including inward investment and the visitor economy.
The Service Director advised panel that the additional session on 24 September 2015 would be timely to provide information about ‘Making it Happen’ and how we are selling Wolverhampton abroad; improvement to the website and the launch of Business Week 2015. Further information was shared with the panel in terms of the inward investment session and that a dedicated officer has been recruited to focus on city investment and the gap in terms of European funding available to encourage investment of SMEs.
In response to further questions the Service Director confirmed that the Council’s corporate communications teams are all involved in the marketing of the city.
Cllr Martin Waite asked whether the Council has enough resources to support existing businesses to upscale and whether the marketing of Wolverhampton is outward facing to external companies. The Service Director advised that a part of the focus for the City Economy Service is the conference programme to bring everything together. Three conferences based on themes of: Working well; Business Week; Visitor Economy. She advised that this is the platform to launch big cultural changes in Wolverhampton. She suggested the Panel could play a valuable role in monitoring campaigns and the effect they have had, to explore ideas and re-invigorate intelligence.
The Chair clarified that the programme of meetings for the year is a work in progress. Cllr Jonathan Yardley, the Vice-Chair requested a site-visit to the Custard Factory be included in the work programme. He highlighted good practice of ‘Make it or Bake it’ events in Tettenhall Green which he suggested members may want to hear more about it in an information paper.
The Service Development Manager welcomed the suggestion of a Custard Factory visit, she highlighted a similar project that is under consideration in Wolverhampton to use an empty building to house creative businesses. She advised that University colleagues have recently led on the bid to do this work. The Service Director suggested that the University colleagues could be invited to join the panel on the site visit.
The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions when discussing the draft work programme and indicated three areas for scrutiny in addition to those on the work programme:
1. Intelligence on how Wolverhampton is selling Wolverhampton to foreign owned companies
2. Monitoring of campaigns – Working well; Business week and Visitor economy
3. Visit to the Custard Factory, Birmingham with colleagues from Wolverhampton University
1. That the corporate priorities and draft work programme are noted and that the following items be added to the draft work programme:
· Intelligence on how Wolverhampton is selling Wolverhampton to foreign owned companies
· Monitoring of campaigns – Working well; Business week and Visitor economy
· Visit to the Custard Factory, Birmingham with colleagues from Wolverhampton University